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Dignity in the Terminally Ill: Empirical Findings and Clinical Applications 

Dignity in the Terminally Ill: Empirical Findings and Clinical Applications
Chapter:
Dignity in the Terminally Ill: Empirical Findings and Clinical Applications
Source:
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)
Author(s):

Harvey Max Chochinov

and Maia S. Kredentser

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199363315.003.0061

Maintaining and bolstering dignity has been described as a key facet of quality, palliative end-of-life care. Dignity includes feelings of physical comfort, autonomy, meaning, spiritual peace, interpersonal connectedness, belonging, and hope. When patients feel their dignity is eroded, they experience a sense of degradation, shame, and embarrassment, linked to depression, hopelessness, and desire for death. This chapter provides an overview of what is known about the concept of dignity from the perspective of patients who are approaching death. The chapter includes a description of an empirical model of dignity in the terminally ill; a means of measuring dignity-related distress; and strategies to enhance or safeguard dignity. The concept of dignity in care is also discussed, and how it can shape patient experience, along with that of families and healthcare providers.

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